This is the third in a series of articles I have written for our local paper.
The Heidelberg Catechism: Question One and Two
In the last two weeks, our articles introduced the idea of a catechism and introduced The Heidelberg Catechism. This week, we will discuss the first of the fifty-two sections of the catechism. This section contains questions one and two.
The first question reads:
“What is your only comfort in life and in death? That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.”
Christians belong to Christ, whose kingdom knows no end (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Romans 14:7-9, Titus 2:14). Christ has saved His people by dying for their sins (1 Peter 1:18-19, I John 1:7-9). Christ makes it so Christians do not have to live in sin any longer (John 8:34-36, Hebrews 2:14-15, I John 3:1-11). Nothing that happens to us is outside of the care of Christ, our friend (Matthew 10:29-31, Luke 21:16-18). Christ ensures the Christian that everything he or she goes through ultimately leads only to salvation and joy (Romans 8:28). Christ makes us want to follow Him with joy in our hearts (Romans 8:15-16, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, 2 Corinthians 5:5, Ephesians 1:13-14). Christ Himself is our great comfort (Romans 8:1-17).
This answer is a great summary of the entire catechism. This answer is great comfort for a Christian facing persecution, suffering, or death.
Question two gives us the outline of the catechism: “What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort? Three things: first, how great my sin and misery are; second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery; third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.” In three words, the three sections of the catechism are guilt, grace, and gratitude.
As Kevin DeYoung says in his book The Good News We Almost Forgot, “The rest of the catechism will follow this three-fold outline. First, we understand our sin. Then we understand salvation. And finally we understand how we are sanctified to serve.” That is a great summary of the Christian faith.
Join us next week as we continue to look at The Heidelberg Catechism.